Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Came out of work to find this LBB(little black bike) parked just outside.

Ok, so it's not necessarily little,  but it's got the minimal simplicity of a perfect little black dress-  matte finish black paint and a suite of black accessories.

I don't really know much about fetish components,  but it looks like this bike has all the "big names"   Chris King headset, Phil Wood hub.

Does the Full Suit chainring mean it's an ANT?  Or are other bikes using that now?   It didn't have an ANT headbadge,  which might be a good thing- the typical patinated copper  might detract from the simplicity of the color scheme (unless it too was painted black).

The army green seatbag and the red chain are the perfect tiny touch of color to set off the black.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Extra Long Load/ The kitchen is coming!

Gilbert at Home Depot on Saturday-  needed a red flag on the end of those aluminum channels.

After grouting the tiles and replacing the outlets this weekend, the kitchen is almost done...
A teaser shot:

Friday, March 25, 2011

Urban cyclocross

Forgot this morning that they had scheduled elevator maintenance for today, so when I arrived I got to play urban cyclocross, hiking Gilbert over my shoulder and carrying him up a big flight of stairs (14' ceilings here).     
The others in my office just parked their bikes outside,  but I hate to leave Gilbert outside, even on a nice day like today.

What kinds of obstacles to you find yourself carrying your bike over?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love these Yellow Tires

From the "mainstreaming of city bikes"  files- these new bikes from CB2 (Crate and Barrel's "youth" line).

These bikes are made by Republic, so they're not really new, but I really like the sunshiny tires and red accents!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Escape by Bike

From Japan an inspiring story of bikes as the ultimate form of transporation!

It's not something that anyone likes to think about much, but my emergency plan definitely involves bikes.   They don't run out of gas,  they don't get caught in traffic jams.  True, you can't take as much stuff with you, but in a true emergency, getting out of town can be more important than carrying stuff.

I've always been struck by the story of H.A and Margaret. Rey,  the authors of Curious George, who escaped the Nazi occupation of Paris by bicycle.
What would you pack in your escape bag?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Smurf Bike

I can't help it, this color (especially with the white accents) automatically brings back the adventures of little blue people!
I have to say if I got a fancy custom bike, I don't think I could bring myself to paint it such a bold color. I admire this owner's moxie and ability to make a statement.

Update: I saw this bike being ridden near my office today. The owner was really tall- I guess I didn't completely appreciate how big the frame is.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Last night I took advantage of the warmest temperatures yet this spring to ride home along the river, which I haven't done for a while.  Since I don't mind going slow and enjoying the scenery, I don't mind sharing the path with joggers and perambulators.  I enjoyed watching the sailboats, out for what must be one of the first voyages of the season, and generally enjoying the last evening light.
At the store, I just couldn't resist a mini-bouquet of daffodils, which tucked nicely in my basket- I love this opening, designed for inserting fish,  but which I use for sunglasses, keys, and now flowers.

Today with highs in the low 50's, I saw a TON of riders out, lots of pent up demand.
I had the wonderful experience of going to a job site meeting at which I was not the only person to arrive by bike!  The jobsite is in Beacon Hill, very close to the T and in a neighborhood utterly without parking.  The structural engineer took 25 minutes to find a parking spot,  but it only took me 10 minutes to get from my desk to the job.  The other person to arrive by bike was the interior decorator (!)  who I actually knew was a bike person because I run into her every once in a while at events.  I had worked with her years ago, and recommended her to the client based on her style and way of working more than the bike thing,  but it was awfully fun not to be the only person there coming and going by bike.  I wished I had gotten a photo- next time I will!

Edited -  I just looked at the weather and it's going to be almost 70 tomorrow!!!!!! I can't wait!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Cambridge's Finest

I was riding home on Main street between MIT and Central, and there was a cab parked in the bike lane, despite there being tons of open parking spots.  I growled under my breath,  checked for traffic and rode around him.   But three or four cars past that was a police car, parked in a normal spot while the officer checked something on his computer.  I rode by, then stopped and circled back.  I knocked on his window and said "Can I ask you a favor?"   "I can ask that cab to move out of the bike lane, but I bet he'll pay a lot more attention if YOU do it."   The silver haired, crinkly blue eyed officer smiled and said, Sure,  I'll do it.

I wasn't sure if he meant right then, or whenever he finished what he was doing, and I didn't want to sit there impatiently,  so I thanked him,  told him "that would make my day" and started to turn around to ride off.  Immediately he got out of his car and whistled to get the cabbie's attention, walking towards him.
I didn't stick around, but when I looked back, the cab had pulled into a parking spot to wait.

Win!  Thanks to Cambridge's finest,  who I have nothing but good experiences with.

Monday, March 14, 2011


I was trying to leave early today avoid congestion on what can often be a tough commute.  People are running late and cutting corners, so the Monday after the time change is often a little gnarlier than usual.
I ended up putzing around on kitchen stuff and not leaving until 8 (7?) though.
And Surprise- the bike lane on Mt Auburn had been swept.  I love you Cambridge DPW!

The traffic wasn't bad either,  and one of my co-workers caught up with me at the longfellow, so we rode the 2nd half in together.   He rides a fixie, and I ride a heavy bike, but with gears,  so we do a bit of leapfrogging as we ride "together."

As I went to pick up a soda at lunch it was snowing (ugh!)  but it's not going to stick to anything.
Just a gray and chilly day though.

Did your commute change any as a result of the time change?
I'm looking forward to more light as I ride home, that's for sure

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bits and pieces

Some interesting bits and pieces from the web:

This article in the New Yorker made my blood boil. Basic Premise: "How dare we take away free parking for suburbo-tourists to provide safer bicycling facilities.  Bicycling was scary and dangerous when I did it as a crazy kid, and bikers will always therefore be a lunatic fringe of (humorless) losers"

A great (and to my mind humorous) point by point dissection of that article here.
A more laid back BSNY takedown
A more pointed response by Felix Salmon

There are monied interests in Park Slope Brookline who are using their influence to try to lynch NYC DOT and its visionary Commissioner Janette Sadik Khan and stir up anti- bike sentiment in their effort to remove a bicycle lane that they claim was imposed by fiat.  Said bike lane was actually requested by the community and developed through a lengthy public process that these important people were too busy to actually attend, so they're surprised and shocked when change actually arrived,  and are doing their best to roll it back through a lawsuit.

From  my vantage in Boston, it's like watching an awful car crash in slow motion.  I'm not sure what to do but be horrified, and be afraid of such a backlash here.

On a lighter note,  if you're a Mad Men fan like me, you might enjoy this PSA promoting highspeed rail (No John Hamm or Christina Hendriks sadly)

Finally, a meeting tonight at Maria Baldwin School at 7Pm to discuss Mass Ave master planning from Porter to Arlington

Ask and you shall receive

Now that the ice floes have retreated,  you can better see all the crap that's accumulated in the bike lanes and the giant potholes that the freeze-thaw cycle has left behind.  People curse a lot about potholes, and they can indeed be very dangerous to bikers, who are relying on the stability of two wheels instead of 4.

However, people seem to think that the city has some kind of super pothole detection powers, and that the reason a particular pothole isn't filled is because there isn't money or will to fix it.   And in this time of austerity, some places that may be true.  But all cities have pothole repair budged we can help them find the best places to spend them.  My experience in Cambridge is that the city is very responsive to people who tell them where the potholes are.  I've seen a fair number of new patches,  and it seems like they're definitely trying to keep up,  they just need our help in alerting them to locations of dangerous ones.

Yesterday I filled in an electronic "service request"  at the Cambridge DPW asking a) if it would be possible to try to sweep some of the non parking-adjacent bike lanes because they were full of debris, especially hazardous loose gravel, and reporting an especially deep pothole on Harvard St.   I got an email back by the end of the day saying that they would forward my request to the streetsweepers and the pothole filling crew.  On my way home, I noticed that the broadway bike lane, westbound at least was a LOT better- still dirty but no longer bearing a strong resemblance to a gravel parking lot.  I believe that they swept the lane within a day of getting my request!

I'll keep my fingers crossed for similar "pre-cleaning" of Mt Auburn, Eastbound Broadway and other bike lanes.  It's easy to huff under one's breath about how icky the lanes are,  but  it just goes to show,  sometimes just putting forth enough effort to ask can have wonderful results.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Anderson Bridge Hearing Report

This hearing was part of the MEPA process, which is a State level process for flushing out any kinds of "environmental" issues prior to the actual permitting with all the regional authorities.   "Environmental" in this context includes not only wetlands protection but historic preservation.   Any big project has to go through this,  and it's a bit of a sideline to the main process- in that I feel that the decisions have mainly been made, and this is what DOT plans on doing.

The Good news:  They did a traffic study which showed that 60 percent of the traffic over the bridge is Cambridge bound,  and that the traffic counts supported a reduction from 4 lanes to three, with one Boston bound lane and two Cambridge bound lanes.  This gives 10' to put into two bike lanes, one each way.
Importantly, Cambridge has signed up to make JFK the same way.

Part of this project is fixing the signal timing on both ends of the intersection, including going to concurrent walk signals so that you can walk on green, instead of waiting for a dedicated pedestrian cycle.  This is supposed to greatly increase the efficiency of the light, and help ease the 4 to 3 lane conversion.
They're also going to fix that awful corner on the SE corner of the bridge by extending the sidewalk, eliminating that awful tiny non ADA "refuge"  and making the right turn lane off Storrow a hard 90 degree turn so that cars aren't speeding around the  eased corner.  It will also improve visibility for peds and bikes coming around the corner.  Additionally they are moving the crosswalk so that it's more or less a straight shot with the Storrow side bike path.
There will be fewer improvements on the Cambridge side, just the light timing, and the elimination of left turns onto Mem drive from Southbound JFK.

The Bad news is that they are very adamant about making the lanes 10'6".  Because of that, the sidewalks will be reduced 9" on each side from what they are.  I don't buy the logic that they need to widen the lanes from what they are, especially since wider lanes lead to increased traffic speed.  But it doesn't sound like that's something that's negotiable to the DOT,  and in all honesty, this bridge is short enough that cars aren't going to bomb across it like they do Mass Ave and Longfellow.

Much of the meeting turned into a discussion of the possibility of creating grade separated bike/ ped facilities which go under the bridge in some way.  This effort has been spearheaded by the Charles River Conservancy,  and you can find out more information on their website.   I do think that this is a great idea,  and I feel that it could be done in a way which is respectful of the historic nature of the bridge.
However,  that's a long dialog with the historic preservation authorities,  and they could delay or outright prevent it from going forward.   I have a lot of conflicting thoughts about preservation and safety and where the line between improved facilities and the preservation of historic buildings should be.

In short,  although I think it's a great idea, with a lot of potential, I'm not sure that this is a project that can be forced into the scope of the bridge repair.   I think that it could potentially be done as a standalone project, but I'm not certain that it's worth the delay and rush and potential for bad design to try to shoehorn it into this project.   There are significant technical challenges on the Storrow side,  due to the steepness of the bank and some big existing water lines which would have to be relocated, and a whole series of retaining walls,  which the historic preservation authorities are very opposed to,  and rightly so- because if they're badly designed and not made attractive, they would really detract from the beauty of the bridge.  
Personally I think we should continue to support it, and ask the DOT to plan for it in order to make it as simple to do as possible later, but I don't think it's realistic for it to be included in this scope of work.

There were a couple of people who spoke up on behalf of drivers, basically saying, "it's crazy to reduce the numbers of lanes, especially when I never see any bikes riding there".  I think that the moderator herself quashed that pretty well by saying that it's hard to judge how many bikes there will be without any sort of facilities in place now.   I spoke up to say how thrilled I was with the new bike lanes, and the improved connection between Allston and Harvard sq.  Three other bikers spoke up, and the crowd seemed overwhelmingly pro-bike.   I'm sure though that a lot of drivers are going to roll their eyes and be outraged about this reduction in lanes, and I think it's good that Mass DOT is willing to take on that political liability to make a safer facility.  I just hope that we can avoid the kind of opposition that they're seeing in NYC in the conflict over the Prospect Park West bike lane/ traffic calming project.  It only takes one Rob Anderson.

As an aside,  after last weekend's little thaw that finally cleared the bike lanes of snow (Hip Hip Hooray!),  we got a cold snap that returned commute time temps to the mid 20's.    But still I saw just tons of bike traffic.  Tonight riding home at 7:15 ish, there were 5!! other bikes at the intersection of Main and Mass Ave. at Sidney Street.  Not even peak commute hours.  It seemed like there were bikes everywhere.  I even saw a lime green Jolly bike with red skirt guards downtown- so cheerful and springlike!

One more thing I forgot,  someone from the city of Cambridge planning dept spoke up in support of the changes, but did make a statement in favor of signalizing Hawthorne street (you know the scary crosswalk from mem drive to the park next to Longfellow Park?- the one that feels like a cross walk on a freeway?)  This would provide a detour for people turning onto Mem drive either way (as does DeWolfe Street).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Bike infrastructure porn

The Scientist is at a conference in the Netherlands (Utrecht) and he's been sending me photos and amazed emails about the sheer volume of bikes there.  It doesn't surprise me at all (I've been drinking the Kool-aid, and I've visited and traveled by bike there),  but it's been a bit of a shock for him, despite all my proselytizing.

A couple of photos of what we'd love to have happen here!
Bike parking at the train station:  You think finding your car at the mall is tough
On street bike parking

You can fit a lot more bikes in a parking stall than you can cars

Coming back from the market with life's essentials.

Note that the speed limit appears to be 15 Km/hr on a residential street.

Bike traffic

 Bike panniers in a shop- look at that selection!  Probably not a lot of choices for technical panniers, but tons of fun designs and colors.

And yes, I promise to post about the details of the Anderson bridge meeting, but thought we should have something fun for Friday!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In like a Lamb?

After a week away (skiing and paying court to the world's cutest 2 1/2 year old)  I was so happy to get back on the bike.   Time change chaos, kitchen rennovations and freezing rain drove me to to the train on Monday,  but I rode yesterday and today, and it was entirely lovely- sunny and 40 degree-ish!

The bike lanes are still clogged with ice floes, but at least you can start to see them and duck in to them from time to time to let traffic pass.  And it felt so warm!  I rode Monday in a skirt, wool tights, a button down shirt, a down vest and gloves, and had to unzip the vest halfway there.   I finally found my winter liner for my bern helmet to use it as a ski helmet,  and honestly it's a bit too warm for use on these early spring days.   It would have been nice to have on some of those 21 degree mornings though.

This morning, I rode in a skirt, lightweight turtleneck and a lightweight trench,  and ended up taking off the trench halfway.  This proved to be a mistake, as the 2nd half of my ride is much windier, and I'm afraid I may have flashed a glimpse of wool tight clad leg at  anyone who happened to be looking out of the train windows on the Longfellow bridge.  Whoops.

The wind continued to rise through the day, and on the way home, I was blown sideways a couple of times- once so badly that I couldn't move forward at all!  Lane control feels really important under those conditions- if someone were passing too close, it could get really interesting if you're blown 3' sideways!
It was also snowing lightly by the time I was leaving the Anderson bridge meeting,  so winter definitely isn't over yet- but again,  it feels like we can finally see that light at the end of the tunnel!